The Sochi Olympics are a proven gold mine for controversy. This time the focus is on Russian ski jump coach Alexander Arefyev who was quoted in the Izvestia daily newspaper last month as saying "If I had a daughter, I'd never let her jump - it's too much hard labor. Women have another purpose - to have children, to do housework, to create hearth and home."
Despite Arefyev’s outdated and sexist concerns, Womens Ski Jumping was accepted as an Olympic sport for the first time at the Sochi Olympics and made its debut yesterday.
Mens ski jumping was introduced as an event at the Olympics in 1924 and ninety years later it is still not all smooth ski jumping yet either, women could only compete in the normal hill not the large hill event despite men competing in both at Sochi.
Why did it take so long to be included? Gian Franco Kasper, Ski Federation President in 2005, was reported as saying it “seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.” I don’t see the term Doctor in front of Kasper’s name.
Arefyev said his concerns were that “it’s a pretty difficult sport with a high risk of injury. If a man gets a serious injury, it's still not fatal, but for women it could end much more seriously.”
With that theory then we’d better cancel most of the Olympic sports especially luge, ski slopestyle, aerials and halfpipe. But then we would just be left with the curling.
Incidentally, no woman was injured in the Womens Ski Jumping at Sochi.
Rachael Oakes-Ash is a leading snow sports commentator and is blogging about Sochi www.miss-snowitall.com